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Verstappen claims Styrian GP pole

NEWS STORY
26/06/2021

Having had it pretty much his own way yesterday, despite the doom and gloom coming out of Mercedes, this morning Max Verstappen was given a rude awakening when title rival Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time.

In fact, the Briton posted the fastest time yesterday also, but after running wide in Turn 10 his time was deleted.

Consequently, it appears that things are not as one-sided as they first appeared.

Showing supreme confidence earlier, Verstappen didn't come out for his qualifying sim until the final moments, at which point he fell foul of the track's notorious traffic issues.

Looking at the bigger picture, whatever happens today, Valtteri Bottas takes a three-place grid penalty for that spin in the pitlane, and while Verstappen looks likely to be assisted by teammate Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly could be in the mix also as the Red Bull brand seeks to take full advantage of its home race.

Alpine continues to impress, as does Aston Martin, and to an extent Ferrari, but what on earth is happening at McLaren?

With Ricciardo 17th and Norris 19th it was a wholly unimpressive session for the Woking team. That said, Norris's time yesterday afternoon was quicker than his best this morning, and Ricciardo was second quickest yesterday afternoon, so we know the pace is there somewhere.

Ahead of Q1 the air temperature is 25.4 degrees C, while the track temperature is 54.6 degrees. There is a 30% chance of rain, but then again we've been hearing that for much of the weekend.

The lights go green and Latifi heads out, followed by Schumacher and Mazepin.

Latifi posts a 5.963, while Schumacher responds with a respectable 6.041. Mazepin has his time deleted.

As the Russian crosses the line there is a flurry of activity in the pitlane as more drivers choose to join in the fun.

Russell goes quickest with a 5.752, with Raikkonen stopping the clock at 5.815.

Stroll and Norris trade fastest sectors, the Canadian posts a 5.218 but the Alphas go quicker, Gasly posting a 5.019 and Tsunoda a 5.136.

Norris goes top with a 4.584 only to be demoted when Verstappen posts a 4.489.

As the Mercedes pair begin their first flying laps, Leclerc goes third with a 4.936.

Bottas posts 4.537 and Hamilton 4.682, the Briton 0.193s down on his title rival.

Such is the heat, and this being a very short track, drivers are opting for two cool-down laps.

Told his time is "just about safe", Hamilton is advised that he will go again.

Alonso goes eight with a 5.119 while Ocon can only manage 14th (5.480).

Also struggling is Perez who is currently 11th, 0.788s off the pace.

Having gone 5th, Gasly has his time deleted.

With 5:00 remaining, the Alfa and Haas duos comprise the drop zone along with Russell, with Ricciardo, Ocon, Vettel and Sainz hovering.

Latifi is currently ninth with a 5.175.

As the final assault gets underway, Raikkonen is off at Turn 4 but is able to continue.

As the field gently makes its way around the circuit, Russell overtakes a whole heap of cars in his determination to get on with things. As the top four sit it out there are 16 drivers on track.

Lots of PBs in the opening sector, with Stroll going quickest.

Russell goes seventh, while Ocon can only manage 11th.

Gasly goes fifth and Giovinazzi 10th while Sainz goes sixth.

Stroll goes sixth but Tsunoda goes fourth and Perez fifth.

Vettel goes thirteenth and thereby demotes Latifi, while Ricciardo makes it by the skin of his rather large teeth.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Bottas, Norris, Tsunoda, Perez, Hamilton, Leclerc, Gasly, Stroll and Sainz.

We lose Latifi, Ocon, Raikkonen, Schumacher and Mazepin.

Ahead of Q2, Bottas waits alone at the end of the pitlane, his Mercedes sporting the yellow-banded mediums. Shortly after he is followed by Russell and Giovinazzi, the later also sporting mediums.

As Bottas posts a 4.724, Hamilton and Verstappen head out, both sporting mediums. However, Perez heads out on softs.

Bottas is advised that his time is not safe and that he will have to run again.

Verstappen crosses the line at 4.540, while Hamilton, following a mistake, locking-up in Turn 3, can only manage 5.386.

On the softs, Perez goes second with a 4.583.

Vettel (softs) goes fourth with a 4.875, as Verstappen consolidates his top spot with a 4.433.

Hamilton improves to third with a 4.626, ahead of Stroll and Bottas.

A 4.429 sees Gasly go quickest, as Tsunoda goes sixth and Alonso eighth.

Ricciardo can only manage 14th (5.145), as teammate Norris goes third with a 4.453.

Bottas heads out on a fresh set of mediums. PBs in all three sectors see the Finn improve to third with a 4.443.

The top four - Gasly, Verstappen, Bottas and Norris - are covered by just 0.024s, while the top nine are covered by just 0.264s.

Hamilton heads out on fresh softs, the world champion enjoying a track devoid of traffic.

It's not a strong opening sector for Hamilton, while ha can only manage a PB in S2. At the line he posts 4.512 to go fifth.

All bar Gasly are on track as the final assault gets underway.

PBs in S1 for a number of drivers including Tsunoda and Sainz.

Leclerc can only manage 8th, while Tsunoda goes seventh. Sainz fails to make the cut.

Russell goes tenth, only to be demoted when Alonso goes sixth.

Vettel can only manage 13th, as Norris goes top and Ricciardo fails to make the cut.

At the death, Perez posts 4.197 to go top, ahead of Norris, Gasly, Verstappen, Bottas, Hamilton, Alonso, Tsunoda, Leclerc and Stroll.

Sainz, Stroll and Vettel all had their times deleted.

We lose Russell, Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel and Giovinazzi.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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